Skip to main content

Solar power has gotten so good we can use it to power airplanes

by Timothy B. Lee, -- July 15 2013

An airplane has flown across the United States, powered only by sunlight. The impressive feat was made possible by improvements in solar cell and battery technology. This chart, produced by the Department of Energy, shows how solar technology has improved:

[see story link for DoE Chart]

Because the flight across the United States took more than 24 hours (specifically, about 2 months), the plane needed to collect energy during the day and then use it at night. It used lightweight lithium polymer batteries to do this. The Solar Impulse team says the “total efficiency of the propulsion train” -- counting power lost by the solar cells, the batteries and other components -- was about 12 percent.

Solar-powered airplanes won’t replace traditional airplanes any time soon. [...] But the flight across the United States was an impressive feat of engineering. [...]

For some photos of the solar plane:

Across the U.S.A. in a solar plane --  Jul 15 2013

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site